Penalty doesn’t hold water
The Star, Saturday September 25, 2010
Penalty doesn’t hold water
IT WAS reported in The Star recently that the Penang government will impose a surcharge of 24 sen per 1,000 litres of water used on domestic consumers who use more than 35,000 litres per month (see below).
This water conservation surcharge will take effect from Nov 1, and is expected to affect about 30% of the domestic users.
However, while such a bold move is laudable, it is certainly not enough to deter water wastage in a state where the majority of the populace is of the affordable middle class.
The surcharge sounds good on paper but it is too low and will not be effective in discouraging Penangites from wasting water.
See this example: If family X uses 100,000 litres per month (a large amount of water by any standard), the surcharge will only be RM15.60. This amount will not even be a deterrent to families with an average income of RM1,000 as it represents only 1.56% of the monthly income.
If the government is really serious about making Penangites save water, the surcharge should be raised to RM1 per 1,000 litres, and then this family X will pay RM65. It will then be an effective deterrent.
People who say such a surcharge is too high should consider the fact that a family’s average telephone bill (including hand phone bills) in Penang is about RM300 (Water Watch Penang Survey in 2008).
If people can pay RM300 on calls, then a surcharge of RM65 is reasonable for water.
The good thing about the surcharge is that the government has the poor in mind as the poor would not be deprived of water if they use water wisely – up to 35,000 litres per family per month. Only water wasters using more than 35,000 litres will be hit.
PROF DR CHAN NGAI WENG, Professor of Universiti Sains Malaysia & President of Water Watch Penang.
The Star, Friday June 18, 2010
Support for water surcharge
NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisations (NGOs) have welcomed the Penang Government’s plan to impose a water conservation surcharge for those who use water excessively.
Federation of Malaysia Consumer Associations (Fomca) vice-president K. Koris described the surcharge as a “very good move”.
He said Malaysia was the only place in the world where people use treated water to wash their cars and water the plants.
Koris, who is also the Penang Consumer Protection Association president and World Water Council (WWC) member, also called for the state to increase water tariffs.
“It’s ridiculous that a family pays more for their handphone bills than they do for water.
“In India, people suffer because there is a lack of treated water but here, people are wasting water,” he said.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M. Idris said the association had always been in favour of imposing extra charges for those who use water excessively.
“The more you use, the more you pay — that is fair.
“However, we want more details on the proposed water surcharge and also for other water conservation measures such as water harvesting, to be implemented,” he said.
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Penang branch chairman D. Kanda Kumar welcomed the surcharge but stressed that it should only be imposed on “those who use water excessively”.
“I know many people who manage their water usage prudently and these people should not have to pay.
“Penang has the lowest water tariff in the country so those who waste indiscriminately should pay a surcharge,” he said, calling for more details of the proposed surcharge to be revealed.
On Tuesday, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government planned to impose a water conservation surcharge in the third quarter of this year to reduce water consumption and prevent any water crisis.
He said a proposal to impose the surcharge had been submitted to the Federal Government but the state had yet to work out the quantum of the surcharge.
Currently, the state’s domestic consumers are using water more than the national average of 205 litres per person daily, and more than the 165 litre per person daily amount recommended by the United Nations.